Last April, we published a report by Andrew Saultz and colleagues highlighting “charter school deserts” across the country, or high poverty areas that lack charter schools. The report was accompanied by an interactive website that enables users to look at every neighborhood in the country, including its population, poverty level, and data for every public school serving students who live there.

We’ve now updated the map to include private schools, many of which offer a critical additional option for disadvantaged students in some areas that need them the most. Users can now identify every public school – both traditional and charter – as well as the vast majority of private schools in their neighborhoods. The good news is that some private schools are located in charter school deserts, opening opportunities for low-income communities not served by public options. Specifically, we find that voucher and tax-credit scholarship programs sometimes serve as private school oases in the charter school deserts originally identified in our map.

Of course the mere existence of private schools does not guarantee access. But in cities such as Atlanta, Jacksonville, and Los Angeles, we see that some private schools are located in charter school deserts. And...

Credit recovery, or the practice of enabling high school students to retrieve credits from courses that they either failed or failed to complete, is at the crossroads of two big trends in education: the desire to move toward “competency based” education and a push to dramatically boost graduation rates. Balancing these competing demands is a challenge, but balance we must because, under ESSA, states are required to factor graduation rates into their high school accountability plans. That provides an unintended incentive for schools to play games with graduation requirements, which underscores the need to keep credit recovery from turning into a total end run around actual learning.

Authored by Fordham’s Associate Director of Research Adam Tyner and Research Associate Nicholas Munyan-Penney, this study examines whether and where potential misuse of credit recovery may be occurring. Specifically, it answers three questions:

  1. How many high schools have active credit recovery programs, and are some types of schools more likely than others to have them?
  2. How many students are enrolled in credit recovery?
  3. To what extent do schools enroll large shares of their students in credit recovery, and is that more common in certain types of schools?

Using newly released credit recovery data...

The 2017-18 school year saw our sponsorship portfolio grow from 4,100 students in 2016-17 to 4,800 students across five Ohio cities: Dayton, Columbus, Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Portsmouth. We're also honored to have been recognized by the National Association for Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) as part of NACSA's Quality Practice Project.

Several of our schools performed very well on Ohio's value added (growth measure), and many exciting things are happening in the schools that we sponsor.

We are pleased to share all of this in our 2017-18 Fordham Sponsorship Annual Report, which also provides a transparent look at the performance of our schools.

Since 2005, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute has published annual analyses of Ohio’s state report card data, focusing on district and charter schools in Ohio’s Big Eight urban areas: Akron, Canton, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Toledo, and Youngstown.

For the 2017-18 school year, we provide an overview of Ohio’s assessment and report card framework along with an examination of key academic data from 2017–18 state exam results and other indicators of post-secondary readiness.

The diagnosis is stark:

  • On 2017–18 state exams, only 36 percent of Ohio students meet the state’s college-and-career ready (CCR) benchmarks in math, and 38 percent do so in English language arts. Low-income students fare even worse in reaching CCR targets: Just 22 and 24 percent of economically disadvantaged pupils reach CCR levels in math and English language arts, respectively. The CCR target is based upon reaching the accelerated or advanced levels on state assessments, and is designed to give a better indication as to whether students are on pace for success in college and career.
  • In the graduating classes of 2016 and 2017, just 26 percent of Ohio students meet the state’s remediation-free targets on the SAT or ACT exams. In six of Ohio’s Big Eight
  • ...
In the realm of education, much attention is paid to making sure that all students reach a minimum level of achievement. Raising the performance of those who struggle academically is a worthy and necessary goal. But in order to provide all students with an excellent education, attention must also be paid to the students on the other end of the spectrum—those who have a history of high achievement and performance. 
Gifted education is largely a matter of state policy, and Ohio’s policies regarding the education of gifted students are both broad and complex. This paper explores the current landscape of gifted education in Ohio in detail. 

In Ohio today, approximately 250,000 students—rich and poor alike—are formally identified as gifted. These “high flyers” have tremendous potential to become the entrepreneurs, scientists, and engineers, as well as the civic and cultural leaders of the future. Yet all too often, they sit in one-size-fits all classrooms, bored with material they already know and held back by a system that too rarely challenges them. Our latest charter public school profile is a look at Menlo Park Academy in Cleveland, a school designed to uniquely support gifted students.

We believe that this look at Menlo Park—and the success of students Cael and Teagan—will show that creating specialized schools for gifted students can be done and that the charter public school model is perfectly suited for such a task.

Although the vast majority of American parents believe their child is performing at or above grade level, in reality two-thirds of U.S. teenagers are ill-prepared for college when they leave high school.

Why this enormous disconnect? Could it be that test scores signaling that kids are “less than proficient” don’t register with parents because they conflict with the grades on their child’s report card?

Authored by American University’s Seth Gershenson, this study examines how easy or hard it is to get a good grade in high school today and how that’s changed over time. It answers three key questions:

  1. How frequent and large are discrepancies between report-card grades and state test scores? Do they vary by school demographics?
  2. To what extent do high school test scores, course grades, GPAs, and attendance align with student performance on college entrance exams? 
  3. How have such alignments and discrepancies changed in recent years?

Utilizing student-level data for all public school students taking Algebra I in North Carolina from 2004–05 through 2015–16 (including course transcripts, state end-of-course exam scores, and ACT scores), the study yielded three key findings:

  1. Although many students get good grades, few earn top marks on the statewide end-of-course exams for those classes.
  2. ...

Eight years ago, we compared states’ English language arts (ELA) and mathematics standards to what were then the newly-minted Common Core State Standards. That report found that the Common Core was clearer and more rigorous than the ELA standards in thirty-seven states and stronger than the math standards in thirty-nine states.

While many states have, to varying degrees, revised their standards since 2010, the questions that should concern policymakers and the public haven’t changed: Are states’ ELA and math standards of sufficient quality and rigor to drive effective instruction? And if not, how might they be improved?

Unlike our previous reports, The State of State Standards Post-Common Core does not formally review standards in all fifty states. Instead, it focuses on those that have made the most substantive changes to the Common Core, or that never adopted them in the first place. By taking a close look at these states, plus a fresh look at the Core, we identify ideas that are worthy of broader adoption, as well as major mistakes that states should avoid.

The standards reviews that are the basis for the final report were conducted by two teams of highly-respected subject-matter experts—one for ELA and one for math—with deep knowledge...

Since 2010, when most states adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), the Thomas B. Fordham Institute has been committed to monitoring their implementation. One of our initial reports, written in 2013 by lead author Tim Shanahan, surveyed middle and high school English language arts (ELA) teachers and found broad support for the CCSS-ELA, yet highlighted several red flags.

Five years later, the CCSS (or close facsimiles) are still in place in most states. And given that high expectations only matter when reflected in classroom practice, we owe it to teachers to continue supporting their efforts to implement these more rigorous standards.

Accordingly, we’re back with another nationally representative survey of ELA teachers.

Reading and Writing Instruction in America’s Schools, authored by Fordham’s senior research and policy associate David Griffith and FDR Group’s Ann Duffett, suggests real progress in implementing state ELA standards, but also—like the baseline 2013 report—real cause for concern. For example, middle and high school teachers are asking more text-dependent questions and report that students’ ability to accurately cite evidence from the text has improved—both of which are in line with the CCSS-ELA. Yet they have also become more likely to assign texts based on students’...

No two charter public schools are alike and the guiding purpose of the Pathway to Success series is to highlight the breadth of quality options available to parents and students across Ohio. Our latest profile, featuring Near West Intergenerational School in Cleveland, is a perfect example of a charter school born from a community’s desire for something different.

Near West Intergenerational School serves an eclectic urban neighborhood that is one of Ohio’s most racially, ethnically, and socio-economically diverse. The intergenerational aspect is equally unique, as the school model intentionally connects its young students to adults in the nearby area who serve as mentors and tutors throughout their schooling.

Cleveland resident and author Lyman Millard of Bloomwell Group details the school’s formation and shares with readers a compelling real-life story about how Near West has deeply impacted one Cleveland family who was once at their wit’s end trying to find the right school for their son.